The Secret Life of Words
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Writer-director Isabel Coixet's (My Life Without Me) beautifully wrought chamber drama The Secret Life of Words opens on Hanna (Sarah Polley), a laconic, backward and introverted girl in her early '30s, quietly drowning in her own isolation. Partially deaf from working an untold number of hours in a loud factory, Hanna must wear a hearing aid. When her supervisors -- deeply concerned about the four years that have lapsed in Hanna's life without a break -- force her to go on holiday for a month, she hesitantly takes off for a coastal village in the north of Ireland. Once there, she… More

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Rotten Tomatoes Score: 71%

Critic Reviews from Rotten Tomatoes

"The claustrophobic and artificial atmosphere of the setting is unfortunately matched by the equally artificial drama."
‑ Frank Scheck, Hollywood Reporter
"Though I continue to have strong reservations about the stylistic abstractions in Ms. Coixet's narrative, the performances given by Ms. Polley, Mr. Robbins and Ms. Christie take me a long way in accepting and recommending the whole package."
‑ Andrew Sarris, New York Observer
"Heartache is guaranteed. And so it is in The Secret Life of Words, a strangely beautiful film about an ugly memory that Hanna (Sarah Polley) carries for the rest of her life"
‑ Andrew L. Urban, Urban Cinefile
"The film succeeds mainly as a story of the connective, regenerative tissue between words and silence on the level strength of its listeners."
‑ Michelle Orange, Reeler
"Making it work onscreen requires a Herculean effort from the actors, a task to which Polley and Robbins -- as well as their supporting cast -- are more than adequately suited."
‑ , Boxoffice Magazine
"What pleasure there is to be wrung from the exceptionally banal The Secret Life of Words lies in the harsh, unforgiving beauty (lyrically shot by Jean-Claude Larrieu) and wonderfully strange social life of the isolated rig."
‑ Ella Taylor, L.A. Weekly
"Like Ceylan -- like many a fine director -- Coixet has made her film less as a drama than as the traversal of a state of mind, a mood."
‑ Stanley Kauffmann, The New Republic
"Can't resist the meaningful political backstory that will transform her characters into symbols--that is, into ventriloquist dummies rattling off humdrum rhetoric."
‑ Walter Chaw, Film Freak Central
"Coixet's screenplay may be a little slow in spots and someof the supporting characters are not very well drawn, but the spotlight is on the two leads, and both Robbins and Polley come through. There's some twee voiceover that mars the film's beginning and"
‑ Ted Murphy, Murphy's Movie Reviews
"This thing is very, very deep. So deep in fact that getting the bends is a distinct possibility."
‑ Eric Lurio, Greenwich Village Gazette
"There may be no young actress today better at embodying a blend of wounded innocence and stoic pride than Sarah Polley. In The Secret Life of Words, she has a part worthy of her gifts."
‑ Lael Loewenstein, Los Angeles Times
"Un parcours vers une existence un peu plus normale que Coixet illustre avec tact et simplicité en tirant merveilleusement profit de l'immense talent de ses deux interprètes"
‑ Jean-François Vandeuren, Panorama
"Can't hold the weight of its own pretensions."
‑ Josh Bell, Las Vegas Weekly
"Out in the north sea--no harbor for pain both physical and psychological--except what contact with the right human being may provide in the way of a cure."
‑ Jules Brenner, Cinema Signals
"Director Isabel Croixet creates an intriguing, enclosed world aboard the ship"
‑ David Noh, Film Journal International
More reviews for The Secret Life of Words on Rotten Tomatoes